So much to tell about the last 2 weeks! I left Buenos Aires and have been in Patagonia since. My first stop was Ushuaia, the southern-most city in the world. I really loved it there, for no reason in particular. Theres such a lovely feel to the place. It is heavily marketed as l Fin del Mundo- the End of the World. They get you to spend money like the world is ending tomorrow – its quite expensive by Argentinian standards. It is a fascinating place – it has the feel of a frontier town but with some tourists and travellers thrown in. The plane landing was really spectacular. I was especially lucky as there was a very heavy cloud cover until about 5 mins before we landed. Patagonia is famous for its heavy unrelenting wind (more on that later). When I stepped out of the airport I expected to be blown away by the wind but there was a lovely light breeze and a beautiful warm sun. Theres a great view of the city from the airport, with sparkling blue sea and the fabulous backdrop of the mountains It should have been only 10C, but it was instead about 20C- Global warming at its best Im afraid.
After Ushuaia I flew to El Calafate; no 20 hour bus journeys for me!! The sole industry in the town is tourism and feels quite manufactured as a result. The main draw is the Perito Moreno Glacier, which is truly spectacular. ThIt is a very fast moving glacier. The face of the ice falling into a lake is 5km wide and about 100ft high. Apparently when I was there it was a very active day, i.e. there was a lot of chunks falling off. It was so exciting to watch nature move so fast. I was completely blown away by the experience.
I am just back from The Fitzroys in the Glacier National Park. They are a apparently one of the most spectacular mountain ranges in the Andes. I did a 2 day guided trek there. (Everything is called a trek here. A girl in a tourist office said with no irony whatsoever that there was a 15 minute trek as part of a particular day trip. Completely different uses of the word obviously!!). Anyway it was pretty amazing stuff. When we arrived, the weather was pretty awful with very poor visibility. And I finally got to experience the famous Patagonian wind, which was on my To Do List! I have never know anything like it. It has knocked me over a couple of times with its force. We walked to the edge of a ridge and it was literally impossible to stand up. It was actually a lot of fun but I had all sorts of grit and stones blown into my face. We were very lucky on the first day as the clouds lifted unexpectedly so that we could see all of the Fitzroy mountain range, which was just awe-inspiring. I couldnt tear myself away from them. The next day was action packed we crossed a river strapped into a harness, did a lot of scrambling up and down mountains, ice hiking and ice climbing. To those of you that dont know, I am quite scared of heights and always have been. If only you could have seen me as this really pushed me! It was a lot of fun but I was definitely at the edge of my comfort zone for a lot of the day.
I arrived today in Puerto Natales, in Chile. Its an interesting sort of place; you can nearly see the tumbleweed rolling through the town. There are a lot of hostels but I havent seen that many people. (Maybe they are all indoors, working on their Blogs!) I took a picture of myself today so that you could see the effect of the wind! This is the starting point for Torres del Paine. I plan on doing very little tomorrow but will hopefully go into the National Park tomorrow. I hope to spend 3 days there. The weather can be extremely changeable so it is completely a matter of luck as to whether it is clear enough to see the towers or not.
Anyway folks, please feel free to email me with your news!
posted Thursday February 2007